ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – official series release — PWC photo —
Michael Lewis scored his second straight flag-to-flag Pirelli World Challenge GT victory on Sunday during the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Martin Fuentes and Sloan Urry also swept the weekend in GTA and GT Cup, respectively.
When the green flag flew, polesitter Lewis launched cleanly into the lead. Fourth-on-the-grid J.D. Davison moved into second, while second-on-the-grid Alvaro Parente pursued in third. Patrick Long rocketed into fourth from his seventh starting position.
In GTA, Fuentes led in class, while Urry led in GT Cup.
On lap two, race control issued a full-course yellow as Corey Fergus hit the wall through turn four. The car sustained heavy damage and Fergus was taken to the medical tent as a precaution, but was later released.
At the yellow, Lewis led over Davison, Parente, Long, and Michael Cooper. Fuentes maintained his lead in GTA, 16th position overall in the race, ahead of Frankie Montecalvo, 17th overall and second. In GT Cup, Urry continued to lead over Alec Udell and Preston Calvert.
After a lengthy delay to repair a track barrier that had been moved by the contact with the No. 00 car, the race went green with just over 18 minutes remaining. From the lap 16 restart, Lewis again launched cleanly into lead, with Davison, and Long in pursuit. Johnny O’Connell picked up fourth in front of his teammate Cooper. Fuentes and Urry remained in the lead in their respective classes.
By lap 19, Lewis, 25, had built a 1.2-second lead over Davison.
Further back in the field, an intense battle developed with Parente, Ryan Eversley and Andrew Palmer jockeying for position in sixth, seventh and eighth. As the group entered turn one, Parente and Palmer came together resulting in a spin for the No. 9 machine. As oncoming drivers avoided the No. 9 car, Austin Cindric contacted with Adderley Fong. Cindric’s machine hit the wall and a full-course yellow was issued. Cindric was not injured.
The race went green again with just two minutes remaining and Lewis again launched cleanly into the lead, with Davison in second. Long would go deep into turn one and Cooper was able to slide underneath for third. Long was able to hold off O’Connell and slotted into fourth.
At the checkered, Lewis scored his second career Pirelli World Challenge GT win in as many days, while Fuentes and Urry also collected their second straight wins on the weekend. Davison and Cooper finished second, and third in GT. Udell and Calvert finished second and third in GT Cup.
“First off, thank you so much to EFFORT Racing, Porsche and Curb/Agajanian Racing for the 2016 season and putting me in the car,” said Lewis. “Today’s race was very hectic. It was a great weekend for me. It’s not easy to win one race, let alone two. You never know when you will win the next one. So we’ll soak this one up a little tonight. We knew everyone was going to be better in the second race after the other teams looked over their data from race one. It’s going to be to a dog fight at Long Beach now too.
“My restarts were not as strong as Saturday in terms of getting into the first corner. Other guys were really throwing their cars into turn one today. It was important to get through that first corner and I could then set my sights on hitting my marks. The restart battles were key today. I hope the drivers in the crashes are okay. Those were hard hits. Great job by the marshalls today. The rubber was different on the track from the IndyCar race before ours. My team was on the radio to me to watch my brakes and tires on the restart. They wanted me to get the heat inside the tires and not just on top.”
“Today’s race was more complicated than Saturday’s race,” said Fuentes. “I don’t know why the second race of a weekend is more challenging than the first race. We were trying to stay away from the crashes in front of us and have a clean race. We were able to move up the field and I was fighting a little overheating again. With the yellow flags, we came out with a little luck today. We always know that luck is part of racing. So winning our fourth race in a row is a tribute to the Scuderia Corsa team. We are very happy to leave St. Petersburg with double wins and move to Long Beach now.”
“It was a lot more difficult race today,” said Urry. “All of the restarts were tough and I had to open the gap. I knew Alec (Udell) was hungry to go for the win today. He really raced me clean. He really shocked me with his pace today. To be honest, I had to run qualifying laps to stay in the front. There was no messing around. It was a great weekend for the TruSpeed Security National Mortgage team. The restarts were difficult today due to the rubber from the IndyCar race.”
CREDIT: Pirelli World Challenge